LOST TRIBE

The Amazon is home to about 400 unique Amerindian cultures. Throughout history Indians have been driven deeper and deeper into the Amazon, and many tribes have been massacred for their land.

March, 2, 2006 - By John Chiappone, Greenspan

The wilderness holds answers to questions that man has not yet learned to ask.

-Nancy Newhall


Logging,
cattle ranching, and mining are exploiting the Amazon rain forest to the point of no return. In a recent victory, the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) program, will preserve a full third of the Amazon.

Because of this program, the world's largest reserve is now the Tumucumaque Mountains National Park - consisting of 9,500,000 acres of pristine rain forest land. President Cardoso of Brazil said of the park, "Plants and animals that are endangered elsewhere will continue to thrive in our forests forever." About 30% of the world's animal, plant, and insect life inhabit Tumucumaque.

The land set aside by ARPA will prohibit mining and logging within its borders. Hunting, fishing, and agriculture will be extremely limited and restricted to indigenous people. "We recognize that local and indigenous populations are those best suited to manage the ARPA lands. ... These people can provide us better enforcement in protected areas through their intimate knowledge of the regions, and we can provide them with economic benefits through employment, training, and education," said Mohamed El-Ashry, chief executive officer and chairman of the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

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Anthropologists from Brazil's Federal Indian Bureau discovered a tribe in the Rio Pardo area of the Amazon rainforest. The Bureau said that they believe that the tribe has managed to avoid contact with the outside world. Anthropologists from the Bureau have had no encounters with them. Unfortunetly there is evidence that a logging company may have reached the tribe first - with violent results.

In 2001 the Federal Indian Bureau took steps to protect the Indians. They banned entry to over 400,000 acres of the Amazon rainforest.  The ban was made to allow anthropologists time to establish contact with the tribe. Greenspan hoped that this would buy time, so the tribe could register a claim to ancestral territory, and the government of Brazil would declare the protected area a national reserve.  The new new reserve would protect the lives, culture, and rights of the tribe. It would protect countless species as well.

Unfortunately a federal judge awarded a logging company entry into the area. The company argued that the order protecting the region would cause irreversible damage to the company. The judges order opened the Rio Pardo area to the loggers for development, and it restricted the Federal Indian Bureau from being present to oversee their actions, so the Bureau could insure the protection of the tribe.

The National Indian Foundation in Brazil reported that photographs from satellite  revealed that the tribe's village was abandoned in extreme disarray. They did not even take their arrows even though they are believed to be a  hunter - gatherer tribe. This indicates that they were ambushed by the logging company, and forced to abandon their village in a hurry.

Efforts to contact the Indians are now hopelessly quagmired. The Indians will not be able to distinguish the people trying to help them from the people forcing them from their land. Approximately 700,000 Indians live in the Brazilian Amazon. Some 400,000 Indians live on established reservations where traditional cultures, languages, and lifestiles are preserved.

Brazil's Federal Indian Bureau has stated that there are more uncontacted Indians tribes in the western Amazon state - where the rainforest is thickest. Throughout history Indians have been driven deeper and deeper into the Amazon. Many tribes have been massacred for their land.

The National Indian Foundation, and the Federal Indian Bureau have enlisted the help of other tribes to alert them of the presence of uncontacted tribes. The sooner they are reached, and have someone to fight for them, the greater their chances of survival.

 

Read more like this:

Second Uncontacted Tribe in Amazon Threatened by Loggers.

Lula Vows to Halt Violence in Amazon

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Bird: Jon Sullivan 

2006 Greenspan
Photo and design credits: 2006 John Chiappone